Two teams with similar needs, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers might go about trying to solve their problems in vastly different ways. Both franchises are looking around the NHL for a goaltender. The Maple Leafs need someone to come in and provide insurance while Petr Mrazek struggles and Jack Campbell is injured. The Oilers need a better option than what they have and some cap space in which to make a change either in goal or on their blue line.
With that being said, these two teams could potentially help each other out.
Maple Leafs Need a Goalie and the Oilers Have One
There’s been plenty of talk about the Maple Leafs going around the league and doing their due diligence on netminders. Reports are they’ve spoken with the Chicago Blackhawks about Marc-Andre Fleury and there’s some thought GM Kyle Dubas might be interested in Anton Forsberg out of Ottawa. It’s not clear if Dubas has reached out to the Oilers, but Edmonton might want to make it known they’d be open to talking about Mike Smith.
Smith is signed to the Oilers for another season after this one. It’s more term than Toronto would like on a goaltender who is older than the Maple Leafs might like, but a franchise that does cap gymnastics every season and a club that has Campbell on an expiring deal wouldn’t be crippled by having Smith on their roster and then needing to make a decision if Campbell re-signs.
If Smith gets healthy and plays well, he’s extremely solid. That’s just what the Maple Leafs are looking for; someone who can catch a heater and push the team through successive playoff rounds in tandem with a healthy Campbell. It’s not a huge risk for Toronto and they are likely finding out the options on the market are probably limited.
Oilers Need to Dump Smith to Make Room for Skinner
It’s fairly clear now that Smith isn’t going to get on any kind of solid run with the Oilers this season. Every time he gets a start, there’s a chance he’ll go down with an injury or an illness and it’s become quite frustrating for the Oilers who have a solid AHL starter in Stuart Skinner waiting to get more than a cup of coffee in the NHL. It’s time for the Oilers to pull the Bandaid off and make a change.
Sometimes the easy way to make a tough decision is to eliminate one of the options. If the Oilers can move Smith, it forces them to run with Skinner and Mikko Koskinen, or go out and acquire another goalie. All of those options are arguably better than what’s been going on when it comes to Smith and the veteran doesn’t have trade protection. It’s just a matter of convincing Toronto he could get hot. Perhaps that’s easier said than done, but if the Oilers clear a path for Skinner, they can finally make a decision and stick with it.
What a Trade Might Look Like
If the Oilers can get Toronto interested in Smith, there are a few options when it comes to a trade. First, the Oilers can try to make a straight salary dump deal where they move all of Smith’s $2.2 million contract and use that money to do other things at the deadline. Even if they don’t make a corresponding move, the $2.2 million coming off of next year’s books is a good thing.
Second, the Oilers could make a trade for a player that might help them and has a similar salary. The first name that comes to mind is Justin Holl.
Holl is a player who has earned a reputation as one of the most polarizing on the Maple Leafs’ roster. A right-shot defenseman who half of the fans absolutely can’t stand and the other half thinks gets too much heat for being not nearly as bad as he’s made out to be, he’s a capable depth blueliner on a $2 million deal for this and next season. Essentially, his and Smith’s contracts are a wash and the Oilers could use another right-shot defenseman. Some Oilers fans will hate this deal based on what they’ve heard of Holl coming out of Toronto, but his defense has improved and he blocks a lot of shots. The reason Holl gets such a bad rap is that he makes mistakes that aren’t pretty and can get caught out of position.
Holl’s name has been out there in trade rumors and he commented on it recently saying, “Whatever happens, happens. Things that are out of our control as players.”
Trading Smith for Holl isn’t the ideal move. The Oilers would probably rather clear the cap space and look around for a different player. At the same time, there are worse trades out there and Holl has more upside than Smith does at this stage in the game. For Toronto, it’s about finding a goalie who can give them what they’re missing. For Edmonton, it’s about going another direction because the choice they made isn’t panning out.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”